I booked my week long stay just 3 days before I went so I did'nt get much time to research this hotel, all I knew was that the star ratings in Tunisia are not comparable to those of Europe or USA and a 5 star in Tunisia is probably a 3 anywhere else and so it seemed when I arrived at the El Hanna Palace or as it now known the Caruso Palace. The first thing to consider is that if you are infirm or unable to carry your luggage you have to walk to the hotel entrance from the busy road but the security guard will contact staff inside and they will come and help if required, for myself traveling alone this was not an issue, and it's only a 30mtr walk to the entrance. The front is'nt as smart as some of the hotels in the area, but for me that added to it's charm, I find those huge, plastic, sugar coated 20 storey'd hotels all look the same, as the song goes "This could be Rottadam, or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome"
Once inside, the foyer is airy and bright, well furnished and the marble floors and staircases are fab. so far so good, however i'm afraid to say the bedrooms are tired and dowdy, so if you are thinking of taking a female partner on a romantic holiday this may not be the place for you, although by next Autumn (2013) they should have upgraded the bedrooms and from the artists impressions i've seen they look beautiful, something to consider though is that once all the refurbishments are complete the prices will be much higher, I paid £330 for flights, Half-board, and transfers, a bargain, but next November it could be £500+. I have to say though, although tired, the bedrooms are very clean and the maids do a fantistic job and an extra towel, pillow, or toilet roll is always at hand if you ask for them, they come in every day to make the beds, clean up and replace towels if wet or dirty, and I often left money, camera or ipod outside the safe in my rush to get to breakfast and it was never touched.
I think at this stage I should mention that you have to remember that in Tunisia the average wage is 30 Dinah a week (£12) so if you want to get some personal touches and feel inclined to do it, tipping really helps, I tipped the bar staff and waiters every day, for example a bottle of beer is 3.5 dinah so I made it up to 4 dinah a tip of 20p and they will go out of there way to give real good service, but even if you don't tip you'll find it hard to get better service than here in any hotel in PEK. This hotel is well known for it's service and I can understand why.
The grounds and gardens are kept in good condition and the dining room is clean but again looking a bit tired, however the food in my opinion is very good considering the price I paid, It's buffet style and plentyfull, breakfast is normal, cereal, bread, toast, cheese, salad, yogurts etc, boiled or scrambled eggs, omlette, however remeber this is a muslim country so no bacon or pork sausages. Dinner is again buffet with loads of choices so all in all, for me the food was good, but I did hear some moans so it won't suit everyone, but if you can't find something to eat at every meal, then i'd be inclined to call that very fussy.
The room above the dining room is probably El hanna's best kept secret, it's a shame it has'nt got a bar because for luxury it's certainly in the top 5 of any hotel i've stayed in around the world, but i'll let you discover that for yourself, just to say that whilst I was there they had 2 wedding receptions for Tunisian upper class that says something.
They don't have any entertainment in this hotel, which is fine by me, but may not suit some people, and if I have a complaint the piped music in the hotel bar is dire, ellivator music at it's worst, with about 20 tunes that repeat endlessly, they had a 40inch tv with MTV on constanly but with the sound on mute, we asked for the hotel music to be turned down and the tv to be turned up but they refused which we found odd?
If you want entertainment there is some ok bars and clubs close by, there is an Irish bar in PEK but its only Irish in name you wont even get guinness in there but a good place to watch footy or F1 there is also a bar/restaurant called Mandra about a 5 dinah cab ride past PEK that has beautiful surroundings and live music and a DJ, however on a fridays & saturdays it's full of wealthy Tunisian men who are looking for any western women they can their hands on, and on that subject you need to be aware that single western women are vunerable to lots of attention out there, and some of it is'nt nice attention, but a firm NO is all it takes if don't want it, and if you do want it, and believe those good looking exotic men are very romantic, be prepared to be the one who'll be paying the bar bill at the end of the night!! Tunisian men believe all western women are loaded.
I would certainly be happy to return to the El Hanna/Curoso, its perfectly placed between PEK and Sousse and if the sun shines you'll find it hard to beat for a winter holiday.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Hana Palace
- El Hana Palace Hotel
- Hana Palace Port El Kantaoui
- El Hana Palace Tunisia